The recession has hit most working Americans in the pocketbook, but some industries have been hit much harder than others. Construction, sales, real estate and finance were hit hard by the real estate bust, for those lucky enough to hold on to their jobs at all, commissions have dwindled and hourly pay and workload have diminished. But there are some lucky sectors where the pay virtually never dips. Read on to find out which workers have the most recession-proof salaries.

IN PICTURES: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs


1. Healthcare
Average Hourly Earnings: $23.02
We all need to see a doctor from time to time, which is why the healthcare industry has recession-proof salaries. As the baby boomer generation ages, healthcare needs are expected to rise greatly - good news for jobs in this industry. Union employees in healthcare may even see a slight rise in salary in tough times, which may be particularly important to nurses and entry-level employees who don't earn the highest salaries. If you're considering joining the healthcare labor force, look beyond jobs such as a doctor or nurse; many duties now fulfilled by doctors and nurses are expected to shift to healthcare aides. To fulfill the needs of the growing elderly population, home care aides and physical therapists will also be a hot commodity. The Department of Labor expects a whopping 24% growth by 2018 for the healthcare industry - a sure sign of both job and salary security. (To learn more about organized labor, see Unions: Do They Help Or Hurt Workers?)

2. Government
Average Hourly Earnings: $26.25
Few people grow up dreaming of a career in government (unless it's as the president), but government jobs offer the most stable of salaries. The benefits are great too: when you add retirement, healthcare and educational benefits, the average hourly compensation for a government employee jumps to $39.81. Look for growth in social assistance branches of government, like elder care for the aging boomer generation, and state government jobs as responsibilities shift from the federal government. Government jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 7-8% by 2018. (During tough economic times, you may be able to improve your financial situation without asking for a raise. For more insight, read Can't Get A Raise? Negotiate Your Benefits.)

3. Military
Average Hourly Earnings: $21.63
Sure, combat boots aren't everyone's idea of fun, but they provide sure footing when it comes to pay. Aside from promotions, allowance, and tax benefits, the military never cuts wages, and usually keeps pace with inflation. You could retire after 20 years of service with a 50% base pay retirement. For added financial benefits, look at this scenario: an enlistee at age 18 can retire at age 48, drawing more than $1 million in inflation-adjusted retirement pay over the rest of his or her life. Add to this education and healthcare benefits, and camouflage starts to look pretty good. (For more on military pay and benefits, read How Much Does It Pay To Be A Hero?)

4. Accounting
Average Hourly Earnings: $32.42
Accounting may not be your idea of an exciting job, but this industry is one of the most stable in terms of jobs and salary. Top-earning accountants can rake in six-figure salaries, and this industry's pay is expected to hold strong. For even more job and salary security, look no further than a career in forensic accounting - with new finance and auditing regulation in the works, this branch of bean counting is expected to see larger-than-average job growth. (To learn more about this career, check out Accounting Not Just For Nerds Anymore.)

5. Information Technology
Average Hourly Earnings: $43.35
It pays to be a computer geek: the IT industry sees salaries well above the national average, with top-earners bringing home paychecks well into the six figures. Outsourcing has been a problem for this industry, and software engineers have taken the biggest impact. Look for job and salary security in network administration and security; with exponential development in internet technology and services, job growth of 45% is expected by 2018 for those designing and securing computer networks.

The Bottom Line
Many of these careers offer entry-level jobs without a college education, making them a good option for those starting out or looking to make a career change. If a recession-proof salary is what you're after, consider these industries for your new career path. (For more jobs, see 5 Sectors Hiring Now.)

Catch up on your financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: The Unrelenting Claw Of Bernie Madoff.

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